By Ben Gauthier
For any club team fan, international breaks can be unwanted and make the season feel disjointed. Two weeks without watching your favorite team play, two weeks of hoping and praying none of your team’s players pick up an injury. Post-2020, we can add hoping no players are exposed to or contract covid; or play for a nation that is “red-listed”.
Every nation’s FA has had to make drastic changes to their respective confederation’s qualifier schedule for the controversial 2024 World Cup. One particular nation has made club teams’ lives particularly hard though. The schedule gods have blessed Liverpool with the early kick-off coming out of the international break. Brazil will kick off against Uruguay at 8:30 pm ET Thursday night!
Even without covid red lists and quarantines, there’s no way players could be expected to play a Thursday night in South America, then jet across the Atlantic to play again for a Saturday lunchtime kickoff. The Selecao seem unwilling to compromise as well, their manager Tite has been quoted saying he “didn’t call players up for only two games” to allow them to return in some sort of reasonable time to be able to compete for their club teams.
What does this mean for the Reds?
It means that we will be without two key members of the spine of our team against Watford. Who will look to take advantage of Alisson and Fabinho being absent, combined with the bounce of having a new manager, give them hope. We already know Sarr fancies a goal or two against LFC, along with the Brazilian pair it appears we could also be without Mane and Tsimikas if they aren’t fully vaccinated. Given how Steve Clarke likes to run Robbo into the ground for Scotland, the Watford game could be a good spot to give Tsimikas a start.
This is the second international break in a row the Brazilian national team has caused Premier League teams selection problems with Liverpool particularly affected given the importance of Alisson, Fabinho, and Bobby (who fortunately for us was not called up because of fitness concerns coming back from injury). It was my hope after the back and forth pissing contest that the last international break ended in; that some sort of long-term solution would be agreed upon as this will continue to be an issue every international break from here on out. Based on Tite’s comments though, it doesn’t seem like the Brazilian FA are interested in a compromise.
It sounds like the best scenario for Liverpool coming out of this international break could be to fly their Brazilians and other red-listed country’s players straight to Spain, so they have a shot (pun intended) at playing in a crucial Champion’s League match against Atletico. Then hope that Mo continues his scintillating start to the season and fires us past Watford. Meanwhile, if behind the scenes, the PL, Liverpool, and the Brazilian FA could reach an agreement so that players can play for both club and country, that would be great. Either way, football is back on Saturday and this rant is over, until the next ridiculous international break.